UK Decay UK Decay played their second London date of 2013, following on from their sell out show at Electrowerkz and the release of their new studio album, ‘New Hope For The Dead’, earlier this year.

Entitled ‘Night Of Celebration’ and tagged as the band’s only southern show for the forseeable future, the evening was a mix of their early and new material performed by a line-up featuring original members Steve ‘Abbo’ Abbot (vocals), Steve Spon (guitar) and Ed Branch (bass).

They performed from their new album, which was produced by Chris Tsangarides, including jarring rock song ‘Shake ‘Em Up’ and anti-racist track ‘Heavy Metal Jews’, with lead singer and frontman Abbo dominating the stage and ricocheting to the beats.

UK DecayPlaying off their 1981 debut studio album, ‘For Madmen Only’, the band showcased their distinct gothic grunge in ‘Duel’. Their more audacious sound arrived in ‘Woman With A Black Heart’, performed with a female backing singer, which departed from their punk roots but added warmth to the set before returning to their subterranean sound in ‘Revolutionary Love Song’.

They finished the hour-long set on their most distinguishing songs: ‘Unexpected Guest’ and the demented, monotonous ‘UK Decay’, with punk anthem ‘For My Country’ rounding off the proceedings. Mixing depressive punk, gothic grunge and upbeat post-punk, UK Decay’s live sound is one like no other.

16/11/13: UK Decay @ O2 Academy Islington, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Pere UbuInstead of repeat promoting their latest studio album ‘The Lady From Shanghai’, Pere Ubu returned to London for the second time this year as part of their ‘Visions Of The Moon’ tour – a preview of brand new songs that will appear on the band’s next album.

As David Thomas remained seated for the entire night, the band began early with ‘Road To Utah’; its tribal beats and whiny guitar contained in a membrane of chiming organ. They moved onto 1975 debut single, ‘Heart Of Darkness’, with its upbeat rock, Thomas joking afterwards about Pink Floyd tour T-shirts and being the first musician to break “the great Masonic secret of the craft.”

Pere UbuNewly christened song, ‘Strippers And Monkeys’, was a disjointed improv piece of every instrument for itself, featuring Steve Mehlman (drums) clanking a chain on and off the stage and Darryl Boon’s surreal clarinet solos.

After the clatter of ‘Bus Station’ and Thomas’ signature misogynistic musings, the band returned to familiar territory playing a slow bluesy version of ‘The Modern Dance’, which Thomas had to stop twice to avoid it spiralling into Burlesque.

Pere UbuPere Ubu returned on the encore with the frantic drum rolls of ‘Golden Surf’ and an incorporation of ’96 Tears’ into their song ‘Carnival’, which produced something almost industrial. They ended the show on Thomas humorously singing an improvisional piece promoting Pere Ubu merchandise to the audience. A contrast to the live performances of their material in recent years, Pere Ubu’s new album looks to be a laid back, stripped down return to full and gutsy Ubu roots.

11/11/13: Pere Ubu @ The 100 Club, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.





Mark StewartTo celebrate his albums ‘The Politics Of Envy’ and ‘The Exorcism Of Envy’, Mark Stewart performed in dub with a band featuring Pop Group guitarist Dan Catsis, MC Brother Culture and a special guest appearance by PiL co-founder Keith Levene.

Much of the set was taken from the 2012 studio album, with Stewart playing ‘Autonomia’ and ‘Method To The Madness’, the latter with the gothic timbre signature of co-producer Martin ‘Youth’ Glover of Killing Joke. MC Brother Culture provided a refreshing reggae twist on backing vocals throughout the show while dub master Dennis Bovell received continuous credit from Stewart for his live sound engineering.

With his mum in the audience, Stewart recalled how as a 12-year-old he had started writing unfinished Pop Group song ‘Let Me Talk To The Driver’ in his mum’s bedroom, which he then finished last year with the help of Youth/Pig Glover.

Mark StewartSpecial guest Keith Levene arrived onstage halfway through the set to play guitar in three songs, including ‘Stranger Than Love’ and his collaborations on ‘The Politics Of Envy’, poignantly performing his and Stewart’s version of Bowie’s ‘Letter To Hermione’.

The show ended on ‘Metatron’ rock anthem ‘Hysteria’ and a mashup of The Pop Group’s ‘We Are All Prostitutes’ and The Maffia’s 1982 EP dub track ‘Jerusalem’. Even more effervescent live, Stewart’s songs range from dark, delicate post-punk, industrialised dub and full blown out metal, perfectly capable of rocking the house down.

24/10/13: Mark Stewart @ O2 Academy Islington, London.

Photo © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Mission Of BurmaOn return to the UK, Mission Of Burma played a rare London show as part of their European tour, their first at The Garage since 2002. With the release of their latest studio album ‘Unsound’ last year, the band performed a mixture of old and new songs from all five of their studio albums as well as debut EP, ‘Signals, Calls, And Marches’.

The post-punk group still consists of its original line-up of Roger Miller (vocals/guitar), Clint Conley (vocals/bass) and Peter Prescott (vocals/drums), now with the exception of Bob Weston of Shellac who replaced original producer and sound engineer Martin Swope when Mission Of Burma reunited in 2002.

They began with ‘Fell–>H20’ from new album ‘Unsound’, its grungey thrash milking the no wave abilities of the band’s vast sonic repertoire. They then moved onto another cymbal crashing track, ‘Dirt’, from album ‘ONoffON’, which was contrastingly lifted by Conley’s bittersweet melodic vocal style.

Miller returned to vocals for Prescott’s hi-hat bracketed ‘Outlaw’, with the guitarist abusing his instrument with pick, steel and amp distortions, skewing the interlude in ‘This Is Not A Photograph’.

Mission Of Burma

Conley’s ‘Feed’ from ‘The Sound The Speed The Light’ brought some respite from the rocky set before Prescott sang ‘Sectionals In Mourning’ – a distorted noise mess like two songs stitched together via quick change tempos. ‘Trem Two’ and its brassy riff was one of the few songs played off 1982 debut studio album, ‘Vs.’ – a Wire-esque outing which resonates the art punk of their contemporaries.

The band ended with two classics, ‘That’s When I Reach For My Revolver’ and ‘That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate’, the latter featuring a punk three chorded intersection and another overdose of melody. Mission Of Burma’s catchy songs are a tie-dye spiral of underground and subversive sound and tempo which continues to withstand the test of time.

30/06/13: Mission Of Burma @ The Garage, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



The Boys

To mark the launch of their remastered debut and second studio albums over 35 years after their release, The Boys played a one-off UK show with a very special appearance by Hollywood Brats singer, Andrew Matheson.

Original Boys’ members Matt Dangerfield (vocals/guitar), Casino Steel (vocals/organ) and Honest John Plain (vocals/guitar) formed the majority of the line-up, there being something remarkable about seeing them united on stage again in London.

Opening early in the set with Beatles cover ‘I Call Your Name’ from their eponymous debut album, the band advertised their historical inheritance as “The Beatles of punk” – a gifted tagline for their mixture of power pop melody and lean three-chorded punk rock thrash.

They played their first single, ‘I Don’t Care’ – a song well ahead of its time with its stripped, hardcore, sleazy riff interlude – and its B-side, ‘Soda Pressing’; two completely different sounds displaying the flipside polar opposites of The Boys’ eclectic experimental audacity. Ironically, it was that audacity that failed them; that ‘dare to be different’ flexing of the punk rock genre.

The Boys

Steel’s ‘Cop Cars’ with its hammer-ons and pull-offs was delivered on request and The Boy’s second album, ‘Alternative Chartbusters’, formed an integral part of the set, with the band playing ‘Do The Contract’ and the single off that album, Dangerfield’s ‘Brickfield Nights’. There was also a sprinkling of Plain’s songs, including his best known, ‘First Time’.

Towards the end of the set, The Boys’ founding member Andrew Matheson joined them on stage wearing a pompous top hat, waistcoat and red ringmaster jacket, aptly suiting his immaculate dress sense, and conversely rocked out to his Hollywood Brats songs, ‘Tumble With Me’ and ‘Sick On You’, the latter unfortunately let down by the microphone failing due to the venue’s erroneous sound engineer.

With the exciting news that the band is recording a new album nearly 38 years and counting after they first formed, there’s hope yet for a more comprehensive UK tour and perhaps some deserved recognition for the band that time forgot.

The Boys

22/06/13: The Boys @ The Borderline, London.

Photos © Maciej Smolczewski.

© Ayisha Khan.




A combination of sound and vision, Kim Gordon’s latest project with Bill Nace is free guitar noise rock, with the duo’s Meltdown performance featuring Japanese no wave musician and electronic percussionist Ikue Mori – once of ’70s experimental band DNA – on drums and laptronics. What Gordon calls “a dream come true.”

While a curious slow-mo art film based around two characters reeled throughout the set, Gordon, Nace and Mori began a first piece of crescendoing noise guitar and watery glass shard electronic sound effects, pinned by Gordon’s vocal wailing, before Mori switched from electronics to blunt beating irregularity, her first public appearance on drums for 25 years.

In a second piece, Gordon’s obscure vocals were barely audible over Nace’s guitar feedback, an urban jungle of static frequency contained by Mori’s steady, primitive bashing, something she won positive critical appraisal for in DNA and that takes inspiration from her experience of the punk rock scene in New York.

Utilising distortion equipment and whammy bar, Gordon and Nace created a vast spectrum of metallic squeak and pop, with Gordon even playing on top of one of the amps at one point in the set. Mori’s regular drumming cut through the frizz of guitar feedback, before returning to free form, and then back again, providing both a rhythmic and arhythmic output. The noise then filtered down to a quiet stir while Gordon continued her ghostly vocal style, playing a little harmonica in between.

This year’s Meltdown festival curator Yoko Ono then entered the stage hailing, “Woman power!” and joined Gordon for a final piece duet, flailing her arms wildly as she sang like a banshee, with Mori on electronics and drums. Both Gordon and Ono did vocals simultaneously, giving the piece a perturbed feel. For a very short set of around 40 minutes they managed to attain a tasteful and unique breach of the sound threshold.

20/06/13: Meltdown Festival – Body/Head @ Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.

© Ayisha Khan.



Siouxsie SiouxIn the first time since 2008, Siouxsie Sioux broke her stage silence by delivering two spectacular shows at the 20th annual Meltdown festival, curated by Yoko Ono, performing in its entirety the Banshees’ third studio album, ‘Kaleidoscope’.

Entering stage left in a belted white PVC catsuit, the 56-year-old gymnastically flexed her way through the 22-song evening, opening with the Banshees’ first ‘Kaleidoscope’ single, ‘Happy House’, before sinking into the post-punk underground groves of ‘Tenant’, distinguishable by its machine revving bass.

The electro drumbeat of ‘Lunar Camel’ and Magazine-esque synth atmospherics of ‘Christine’ (Banshees’ guitarist John McGeoch’s unmistakeable influence), which are so discernible on the album, were followed by the surreal Gothic sweeps of ‘Desert Kisses’ and the bracketing, scuttling squelch of ‘Red Light’.

Despite her years, Siouxsie ragdoll danced her way through the exhaustive set seemingly effortlessly, confiding in the audience just over half way through, “Next time I break for five years I have to not come back and wear vinyl…it’s a killer.” Rather to be wrapped up in PVC than cotton wool.

‘Israel’ featured the return of more McGeoch post-Magazine guitar chimes before Siouxsie covered The Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’. During one of the many encores of the night, Siouxsie re-entered the stage with further catsuit alterations in the way of cowboy hat and burlesque tail piece to seductively perform blues song, ‘Careless Love’.

She ended her third encore and the night on ‘Juju’s ‘Spellbound’, a bonus song added to the set list from the first show. Siouxsie Sioux made her comeback by successfully transporting the RFH back to the ’80s height of electro and coldwave, amalgamated through her ever present youthful vigour.

17/06/13: Meltdown Festival – Siouxsie Sioux @ Royal Festival Hall, London.

© Ayisha Khan.



WireTo promote their 13th studio album ‘Change Becomes Us’, Wire played an album preview show ahead of the release date and as a finale for their ‘Drill: London festival’ series of curated music events in the capital.

Their latest album is a collection of tracks reconstructed from crude live recordings made from 1979-80, initially released on their ‘Document And Eyewitness’ live album. Wire have taken the songs or sections of these and combined them with their forward thinking art rock prowess to produce wholesome tracks suitable for the modern age.

The band’s founding assemblage of original members is formed of lead guitarist Colin Newman, bassist Graham Lewis and drummer Robert Grey, with the newer addition of Matt Simms, the band’s tour guitarist, who has for the first time since joining the band recorded with them on one of their albums. The changes to the set were a keyboard and laptronic operator called Tim and an iPad replacing Newman’s previously physical music sheets.

Playing their new songs as they appear on the record, Wire began with the two scaled staccato riff of ‘Doubles & Trebles’ before ‘Adore Your Island’ superseded with its fast and slow alternating section contrasts. Lewis took over from Newman on vocals to perform ‘Re-invent Your Second Wheel’, a track that rung with Wire guitar brassiness.

WireLewis also sang with more roughened vocals the energetic noisy funk ‘n’ dub track, ‘Eels Sang’, with improvisational industrialised sound effects not present on the recorded version. Newman’s vocals were out of tune in ‘Love Bends’, which was a world apart from its recorded version; in live performance dissected into its component parts, with synth in competition but synchronisation with guitar chords.

Following their live rendition of the last track on the album, Wire’s encore then took place, which was billed as performing their classic song ‘Pink Flag’ with the massed guitars of the Pink Flag orchestra. In manifestation it was Wire with around 20 additional guitarists plugged into the abundance of amplifiers in the set, which Lewis said were “All set on 12.”

After a few minutes of the orchestra setting up, Newman shouted, “Are you ready? 1-2-3-4!” before the crashing roar of the chorded choir frazzled air particles as they strummed away, extending the song beyond the call of “How many dead or alive?” for little under nine minutes in total. Finally, they drizzled down into a haywire clam of fretboard feedback and a dimming buzz of electrics. Nothing quite like it has been attempted by Wire before and perhaps will never be again.

24/03/13: Wire @ Heaven, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Killing JokeTo mark the 34th going on 35th anniversary of the formation of their band, Killing Joke, with its original line-up of Jaz Coleman (vocals), Kevin “Geordie” Walker (guitar), Martin “Youth” Glover (bass) and Paul Ferguson (drums), played a London show as part of ‘The Single Collections 1979-2012’ world tour in commemoration of their band’s achievements after so many years.

Before they entered the stage, a projected screen with the mystifying words, “Killing Joke confirm your worst fears,” beckoned. The band opened with post-punk hymn, ‘Requiem’, also the opening track on their 1980 eponymous debut album, with the projected screen playing a succession of motion sequences – some based on Killing Joke artwork and video – that continued throughout the night. ‘Wardance’ soon followed with the choking chug of Youth’s bass drowning out the poorly audible set.

Killing Joke

They moved onto the doom and gloom robotic vocals of ‘European Super State’, from their 2011 ‘Absolute Dissent’ album, Killing Joke’s first studio album since reuniting with their original members in 2008. The industrial gothic feel of their well known 1985 single, ‘Love Like Blood’, had the feel of The Mission with its similar drum technique, extending into the vocal angularity, reverberating grunge and drum rolls of ‘The Beautiful Dead’; Coleman contemporising this with people using iPhones “like fucking zombies”.

The band detoured from industrial into disco, with the unmistakable pump of hit favourite, ‘Eighties’. The rather unfortunate track, ‘Asteroid’, was then screamed out by Coleman but thankfully soothed over by ‘The Wait’ and metal drudge of ‘Pandemonium’. The encore featured ‘Follow The Leaders’ and 1980 unofficial single, ‘Change’. Interestingly, they did not play from their latest studio album, ‘MMXII’.

Bar the terrible sound engineering, the founding members of Killing Joke reconciled their fans with the last 34 years of memorable singles. And with a new album tipped for release this year, the celebrations are certain to continue.

16/03/13: Killing Joke @ The Forum, London.

Photos © Imelda Michalczyk.

© Ayisha Khan.



The AlarmTo promote the release of Mike Peters’ new film ‘Vinyl’ about his band’s real-life hoax on the British music industry, The Alarm have been on their spectacular ‘Vinyl’ tour with the film in cinemas this month.

The band’s tour was also a celebration of the Welsh rockers’ history, from their pre-Alarm days as Bo Larks, Eddie Bop, Steve Shock and Des Troy of punk band The Toilets playing alongside the likes of The Clash and Buzzcocks at Eric’s nightclub in Liverpool, to their alternative rock revival supporting U2 in 1981.

The current line-up is formed of founding member Mike Peters and his backing band of Chelsea guitarist, James Stevenson, The Sisters Of Mercy/The Cult/The Mission bassist, Craig Adams, and keyboardist since 1985, Mark Taylor, with Smiley on drums.

The AlarmThey opened with ’45 RPM’, which was released in 2004 under the band name ‘The Poppy Fields’ – a Stiff Little Fingers resounding punkish song written by Peters and Steve Grantley of Stiff Little Fingers. The single was released by a fake, young punk band that lip-synced the track which was really The Alarm’s recording and forms the story behind ‘Vinyl’. Their alternative rock sound mentored by U2 was resonant in ‘Swan Song’ and ‘Loaded’, the latter played at their first ever Alarm gig on 6 June 1981.

After a quick change into leather jackets and a tempo adjustment, The Alarm’s nostalgia trip transformed them back into The Toilets again, playing their chant ‘Free Rock & Roll’ introduced by a media reports recording with one of the actors from ‘Vinyl’ joining the band on-stage. They then rushed into ‘Nothing To Do’, once performed alongside The Clash, as well as ‘Let Me Out’, which was played aside the Buzzcocks (Peters sounding a lot like John Lydon).

They performed the emotionally poignant ‘Spirit of ’76’ as both a duet between Peters and Taylor and then with the rest of the band, with favourites ‘Blaze Of Glory’, ‘Marching On’ and ’68 Guns’ following. Richard Archer from Hard-Fi joined briefly for a cover of ‘I Fought The Law’ before they ended appropriately on ‘Moments In Time’. The Alarm succeeded in bringing their fans in one night the very best of their band, from humble beginnings knocking on the window of Eric’s for their first gig to their very own motion picture.

The Alarm 15/03/13: The Alarm @ O2 Academy Islington, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.










With cause to celebrate the release of her debut solo album ‘The Vermilion Border’ at the end of last year, Viv Albertine has been enthusiastically promoting her new collection of songs through live performance following on after the release of her 2010 launch EP, ‘Flesh’.

Wearing an eye-catching sparkly sequin number, Albertine opened with the contrasting slabs of ‘Don’t Believe’ and ‘If Love’; the former developed from ‘Flesh’ and the latter from it, featuring dark, monotonous repetition and a shouty, wirey track familiar in style to The Slits’ debut album, ‘Cut’. ‘In Vitro’, perhaps one of her best songs off the new album, echoed with sped up dub and clanky guitar.

There was then a detour into forlorn, wishy-washy drenched folk in ‘Becalmed (I Should Have Known)’, with seasick wailing viola. After several breaks in the set during a vocally out of tune performance of ‘Life’s Too Short To Be Shy’, Albertine brought back the temperature with the fiery, cymbal crashing punk track, ‘I Want More’. ‘Confessions Of A Milf’ paralleled this; a sweet but spiked ditty building to a crescendo of “home sweet home.”

Viv Albertine’s new album in performance is a mixture of original songwriting splashed out through both innocent poetic muse and loud, brash Slit’s style grrrl power. And it helps that at 57 she’s still looking fab.

23/02/13: Viv Albertine @ Nambucca, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.